Integration with other reference managers

From refbase

There are many reference management applications that can be used in conjunction with a refbase database. See Wikipedia for a comparison of reference management software.

refbase supports import and export formats that allow you to exchange bibliographic data between a refbase database and desktop reference managers (such as BibDesk, Bibus, Bookends, EndNote, JabRef or Zotero) or online services such as RefWorks. Using Zotero you don't necessarily need to export your data from refbase since Zotero automatically senses all records displayed on a refbase web page. This means that you can add all (or selected) references simply by clicking a single button.

A desktop reference manager can be used to keep an offline repository of all references stored in your refbase database, or to integrate with common word processor applications (such Writer or MS Word). As an example, Bibus allows you to insert references into Writer or MS Word documents and to format the bibliographies. Zotero has experimental support for MS Word and Writer. On Mac OS X, Bibdesk integrates nicely with LateX.


Getting records from other reference managers into refbase

Most of the methods described below involve file downloads and/or uploads. Note that when importing data into refbase, you have to make sure that the character encoding of your bibliographic data file matches the character encoding of your refbase database (either 'Western ISO Latin 1' aka 'ISO-8859-1', or 'UTF-8, no BOM'). If this is causing you any trouble, it may be easier to open your data file with a text editor such as "WordPad" (Windows), "TextEdit" (Mac OS X) or any *NIX text editor, then copy and paste the data into the refbase import form (import.php). This latter method may work better for higher ASCII chars such as accented characters or umlauts.


Zotero has a convenient "QuickCopy" feature that you can configure to copy/paste data into the refbase import form. A screencast demonstrates the use of QuickCopy:

  • In Zotero's preferences:
    • In the export tab:
    • Add a site-specific setting to have the URL of your database take RIS-formatted citations.
  • When on your site, Ctrl-Alt-C in Zotero quick-copies the references in the RIS format. You may paste these into the import box.


[While this was done on Win XP using EndNote 8.0, these instructions should also work for other platforms and earlier versions of EndNote.]

Because most "Export" formats are not enabled by default in EndNote, one has to first select the styles to be available. The exact procedure for exporting references from EndNote to a format that is accepted by refbase, is to do the following:

  • Edit -> Output Styles -> Open Style Manager... (this may take a while)
  • Sort the "Category" column and look for "Export".
  • Check the following style "Names":
[] BibTeX
[] EndNote
[] Medline (NLM)
[] Refer
[] RefMan (RIS)
[] Tab Delimited
  • Close the Style Manager.
  • Edit -> Output Styles
  • Put a check mark on the one you want to use, from the ones you enabled above. "RIS" is a good choice.
  • File -> Export
  • Save as a text file.
  • Go to the refbase import form and select your saved text file via the file upload button. Then click the "Import" button.

Reference Manager (RefMan)

  • Select the references you want to transfer.
  • Export the references in "RIS" format, and save them to a text file (using the "Text Only" option).
  • The text file must end with the extension .ris - if it does not, you must replace the existing extension (usually .txt) with .ris .
  • Go to the refbase import form and select your saved text file via the file upload button. Then click the "Import" button.


For ProCite 5, open the library in EndNote 7 or 8 (the demo version will work), then follow the instructions above for exporting from EndNote.


Bookends 10 and above has "upload to refbase" functionality built in:

  • To enable direct import of references from Bookends into your refbase database, do this once:
    • Open Bookends -> Preferences, switch to the "Internet" tab and enter the base URL of your refbase database as well as your account credentials.
  • Select the reference(s) you want to import into refbase.
  • Refs -> Upload To Refbase...

After successful import, Bookends will show a dialog reporting the number of records imported. Alternatively, you can perform the following steps to get references from Bookends 8 (or above) into refbase:

  • Biblio -> Formats Manager...
  • Mark the checkbox next to following formats:
[] BibTeX
[] EndNote Export (Refer)
  • Click "Done".
  • Biblio -> Bibliography Formatter
  • In the upcoming dialog, select either "EndNote Export (Refer)" or "BibTeX" from the first dropdown menu. In the second dropdown menu, choose "Plain Text (ASCII)" (or, in case you've chosen "BibTeX" in the first dropdown, choose again "BibTeX"). In the third dropdown menu, choose "Send the bibliography to: Disk".
  • Click the "Make Bib" button to save the file.
  • Go to the refbase import form and select your saved text file via the file upload button. Then click the "Import" button.


  • References -> Export
  • Then under "Export Format", select one of the following:
[] Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)
[] BibTeX - RefWorks ID
[] XML
(The 1st one is really "RIS" and is a good choice.)
  • Click the "Export to Text File" button.
  • Depending on your browser settings, it will either download a text file or open a new window containing the data. If it's a file, select this file via the file upload button in the refbase import form. Otherwise, copy and paste the data into the refbase import form. Then click the "Import" button.

Future plans

We plan to provide better integration between refbase and desktop reference managers, please see our planned features page for more information.